Hot Potato

Thursday, July 28 2005

Yesterday my transport service partner and I took a patient home to die. This is not his story.

Now, it’s customary in the transport company at which I work to switch places each call – Tech (or lead) a call, then drive a call, then tech a call. Fate therefore placed DTs behind the wheel during this transport.

As we rounded the corner to the residence I noticed what appeared to be an adult male lying prone on the slope of a small hill. Huh. Funny place for a nap.

We delivered our patient, got him comfortable and gave report to the hospice folk who rolled in a few minutes later. Time on scene, probably twenty minutes.

The heat yesterday was unusual for this time of year. On Tuesday I passed a time/temp display at a bank, which swore that it was 107F. Wednesday was not far below that, if at all.

We were concerned, therefore, when driving from the residence we spotted the same adult male on the same slope in much if not exactly the same position. Hmmm. Silently DTs and his partner held up their hands before their faces, studying the shapes and flex of the fingers – surely the hands of healers. Our moral imperatives were clear. Besides, this could be something interesting.

We called our dispatchers to tell them we were temporarily offline to investigate a possible unconscious, then parked the rig and strolled over.

The gentleman seemed to be breathing, and after a few “Sir! Wakeup!”‘s managed to roll himself over. His distress became evident to our nostrils if not our eyes, for he was the victim of muy cervezas. EMS folk would be quick (and right!) to point out that this was not necessarily the case – ketoacidosis can mimic that odor – but our new friend was forthright in telling us of his predicament, which also included being either kicked out of his home or having no home – difficult to understand.

What was easily understood, though, was that this gentleman needed to get out of the heat. Dehydration was an immediate concern, heat exhaustion a sincere possibility. In the shade, he wasn’t in any immediate distress, though. Who to call? My partner and I voted to see if PD might be able to escort this fellow back home (if indeed he’d been kicked out, to smooth things over.) Avoid 911 as it might get the guy in trouble – drunk in public or something. He wasn’t being belligerent or offensive, let’s keep it civil.

I stayed with our charge while my partner dialed non-emergency. I got to hear our end of it.

“Hi, this is (name), calling about an adult male AOB… what? At Foobus Ave and Wombat Street… Oh.”

The operator cheerfully informed him that (County), not (City), should be called. Bye! Well, we didn’t have (County)’s number. My partner found the number for their Sheriff’s department – that should do.

“Hi, this is (name), calling about an adult male AOB… what? Oh, okay. They said it’s a police thing, not a sheriff thing. I’m on hold.”

“Hi, this is (name), calling about an adult male AOB… what? No, he’s fine, just sitting here and… I’m on hold again.”

DTs eyes the Army and Navy Recruitment center across the street. Hmmmm. Nahhh.

“Hi, this… at Foobus Ave and Wombat Street… well, it’s pretty hot out and… I’m on hold again.”

“Hey, you know, just hang up, the hell with these guys. Sir, estamos no llame la policia, we’re not calling the police. Go home. Vaya su casa, okay? Aqui it’s too caliente, go home.”

The gentleman assured us he would do just that. Probably not but at least he was in the shade.

Sheesh. Next time I’m gonna lie and say we found a bag of money, see what happens then.


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